The budget’s impact on different groups and the government’s priorities are subjects of ongoing political debate in Malta. Malta’s Budget speech, delivered by Finance Minister Clyde Caruana, has sparked varied reactions from members of different political parties.
The responses from MP Randolph De Battista of the Labour Party (PL) and MP Ivan J Bartolo of the Nationalist Party (PN) reveal key differences in their assessments of the budget. Let’s delve into the distinctive viewpoints of these two politicians on what they liked and what bothered them about the Budget.
In his response, Randolph De Battista focuses on the positive aspects of the budget and emphasises the social measures that aim to benefit various segments of the population. He acknowledges the importance of supporting lower-income individuals, pensioners, families with children (notably the highest children’s allowance in history), and those with children with disabilities. De Battista also appreciates the budget’s emphasis on encouraging elderly citizens to stay active, addressing concerns he previously raised in Parliament.
De Battista is particularly pleased that Malta’s approach to the budget differs from some other European countries, like France and Germany, which are currently discussing austerity measures. He commends the Maltese government for not burdening the people, highlighting initiatives such as the €350 assistance with electricity and water bills. This, according to him, helps protect the middle class and prevents people from falling into poverty.
Speaking to Malta Daily, the PL MP also mentioned that he would like to understand a little more about the help that will be given to people who buy e-kick scooter. Randolph De Battista said that he would like to see the two parties agree on transport and alternative means of transport, to solve transport issues once and for all.
On the other hand, Ivan J Bartolo from the Nationalist Party expresses reservations about certain aspects of the budget. He questions the government’s decision to impose taxes on the Cost of Living Adjustment (COLA), an issue that many in Malta have raised concerns about. Bartolo points out that the COLA is meant to help citizens cope with the rising cost of living, and taxing it may be counterproductive.
Another concern raised by Bartolo is the budget’s mention of the police’s success in tackling criminal organisations. He finds it perplexing that the budget document doesn’t acknowledge certain unresolved issues, such as the controversy surrounding the Steward and Vitals deal in Castile, which the court deemed a crime. Bartolo’s unease with this omission suggests a need for more transparency and accountability in law enforcement.
Speaking to Malta Daily, Ivan J. Bartolo said that there are also social measures in the Budget that no one can deny that make sense.
These contrasting reactions to Malta’s Budget illustrate the deep political divide on how the government’s financial plans are perceived.
While Randolph De Battista (PL) commends the budget for its social focus and measures aimed at supporting various demographics, Ivan J Bartolo (PN) questions the taxation of COLA and calls for a more critical examination of the police’s effectiveness in addressing criminal activities.